We need to talk about Hygge. Especially now it's officially the first day of Autumn, a.k.a the cosiest season of the year – not too cold, but crisp enough to light some candles and crack out the cosy socks and blankets… and stick the kettle on to make some hot-chocolate whilst you're at it. We will also need popcorn, freshly baked cakes, a roaring fire, fairy lights and a heart-warming film to watch. That feeling of utter bliss, of extreme cosy, that's Hygge, and it's amplified when you can share this cocooned feeling of warmth and happiness with people you love.
Hygge (pronounced hoo-gar) is a concept embraced in Denmark to encompass all the things that raise our happiness and feed the soul. The Danish will say "this is is so Hyggeglig" if they're experiencing extreme cosiness, or say "let's have a Hygge day" and everyone will know exactly what this means. Of course Autumn is very Hygge, how could kicking crunchy leaves and wearing soft toasty gloves not be? But Christmas is the most Hygge time of the year in Denmark, the high season of uber Hygge-ness. However, Hygge isn't just for cold days, it's all year round in Denmark, the picnics, barbecues and festivals of summer are all very Hygge. It's just a feeling of contentment, of being fulfilled, and of purposely trying to achieve this by focusing on wellness, happiness and love.
When I think about my most Hygge moments, they definitely involve green tea, chocolate, and a good boxset or book. Happily then, I can get even more Hygge-y with The Little Book Of Hygge which Penguin very kindly sent me. Written by Meik Wiking whose job it is to ponder about what makes humans happy at the Happiness Research Institute, it explains in beautifully illustrated detail what the heckington Hygge is, and why it's so damn Danish. Denmark is officially one of the happiest countries in the world because of the better quality of life people have; better working conditions, cleaner air, and a focus on getting all happy and Hyggelig. Meik tells us that the Danes are obsessed with lamps and candles, simple yet beautiful home and clothing aesthetics, and a love of being outdoors.
Food features heavily in Hyyge-ness, with everything from big family meals or friendly dinner parties to treating yourself to daily coffee or hot-chocolate and cake. Meik called this the dark side to Hyyge – that the Danes consume way more refined sugar than anywhere else in Europe. But hey ho! Gotta love them Danish pastries.
The Little Book Of Hygge explains in chapters how to reach maximum Hygge in a way that the Danes do, and the benefits of this to your quality of life. The manifesto for Hygge (below) has ten aspects to consider, and it's not all about lighting some Dipytique candles and having a bubble bath. It includes things we could genuinely benefit from to make our personal and professional lives happier, including being more present, living in the moment and being less all-consumed by technology, cutting out drama and toxic relationships from your life, and taking practical steps to creating physical and mental balance and harmony. After reading this book I felt inspired, and not just for some tea and popcorn in front of the fire (although, I did that first obvs), but to do some yoga and take a walk, to live more simply and throw some of my clutter away, and to take more time to talk to friends in person instead of just online.
This is such an adorable little book, and written in Meik's charming, engaging style, it will introduce you to the Scandinavian concept that's becoming all the rage outside of Denmark. It would make a great gift for anyone needing a happiness boost… or someone who loves all things Scandi, this will take them to the next level. A beautiful treat of a book that's perfect for Christmas, Autumn, and any time really, because Hygge is all year round and for all of us.